Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative

The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative is a philanthropic programme that pairs gifted young artists with internationally recognized masters in: architecture, dance, film, literature, music, theatre and visual arts, for a year of creative collaboration in a one-to-one mentoring relationship. The initiative was launched in 2002 and runs every two years, with the aim of making significant contributions to the arts worldwide.


The mentoring programme grew out of a desire by Rolex, the Swiss watch company, to support artists in the same way that the Rolex Awards for Enterprise were supporting scientists, conservationists and explorers. Two years of research in the 1990s led to the discovery that mentorship of individual young artists was lacking, and the international initiative was founded to nurture young dancers, musicians, theatre directors, writers, visual artists and film-makers.


The mentor-protégé selection process begins with the establishment of an Advisory Board of distinguished artists and arts practitioners from around the world who suggest, endorse and help recruit the mentors. Once the mentors ─ one in each discipline ─ have agreed to take part, each gives a profile of his/her ideal protégé. The potential protégés are young, extremely talented artists, who have already made great headway in their careers, but who will benefit tremendously by collaborating with a master for a year.

Tailor-made panels of nominators, one for each discipline, act as “talent scouts” to identify suitable protégé candidates from their extensive network of contacts worldwide; the potential candidates are approached and asked to submit applications detailing their credentials and career motivation, which are used by the respective panel to select three or four protégé finalists. Finally, each mentor meets with the finalists to choose his/her protégé. The best talent is inevitably discovered through this process.

The mentor and protégé work closely together during the mentoring period, with each pair deciding the most effective way of interacting. Except for the minimum of six weeks (30 working days) that the mentor-protégé pairs are required to spend together, there are few rules to the programme. Most spend considerably more time interacting, sharing knowledge and experience.

Rolex grants each mentor an honorarium of 100,000 Swiss francs, and each protégé 40,000 Swiss francs during the mentoring period (plus travel and expenses) and 30,000 Swiss francs after the mentoring period for the creation of a new piece of work, a publication, performance or public event.

The programme is managed by a specialized team at the company’s headquarters in Geneva. After the mentoring year, Rolex continues to keep in touch with the protégés, following their careers and documenting their progress on the Arts Initiative website


The initiative has been highly acclaimed by both mentors and protégés. Protégés gain from the mentor-protégé relationship, and, over the years, mentors have expressed how they have gained new energy, insights and inspiration from the younger artists. Cross-fertilization also exists through the alumni network of artists who have participated in the programme.



(The architecture discipline was launched in 2012)

Date Mentor Protégé
2018–2019 Sir David Adjaye (Ghana / United Kingdom) Miriam Kamara (Niger)
2016–2017 Sir David Chipperfield (UK) Simon Kretz (Switzerland)
2014–2015 Peter Zumthor (Switzerland) Gloria Cabral (Paraguay)
2012–2013 Kazuyo Sejima (Japan) Zhao Yang (China)


Date Mentor Protégé
2018–2019 Crystal Pite (Canada) Khoudia Touré (Senegal)
2016–2017 Ohad Naharin (Israel) Londiwe Khoza (South Africa)
2014–2015 Alexei Ratmansky (Russia/United States) Myles Thatcher (United States)
2012–2013 Lin Hwai-Min (Taiwan) Eduardo Fukushima (Brazil)
2010–2011 The late Trisha Brown (United States) Lee Serle (Australia)
2008–2009 Jiří Kylián (Czech Republic) Jason Akira Somma (United States)
2006–2007 Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (Belgium) Anani Dodji Sanouvi (Togo)
2004–2005 Saburo Teshigawara (Japan) Junaid Jemal Sendi (Ethiopia)
2002–2003 William Forsythe (United States) Sang Jijia (China)


(The film discipline was launched in 2004)

Date Mentor Protégé
2016–2017 Alfonso Cuarón (Mexico) Chaitanya Tamhane (India)
2014–2015 Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Mexico) Tom Shoval (Israel)
2012–2013 Walter Murch (United States) Sara Fgaier (Italy)
2010–2011 Zhang Yimou (China) Annemarie Jacir (Palestine/Jordan)
2008–2009 Martin Scorsese (United States) Celina Murga (Argentina)
2006–2007 Stephen Frears (United Kingdom) Josué Méndez (Peru)
2004–2005 Mira Nair (India) Aditya Assarat (Thailand)


Date Mentor Protégé
2018–2019 Colm Tóibín (Ireland) Colin Barrett (Ireland / Canada)
2016–2017 Mia Couto (Mozambique) Julián Fuks (Brazil / Argentina)
2014–2015 Michael Ondaatje (Canada) Miroslav Penkov (Bulgaria)
2012–2013 Margaret Atwood (Canada) Naomi Alderman (United Kingdom)
2010–2011 Hans Magnus Enzensberger (Germany) Tracy K. Smith (United States)
2008–2009 Wole Soyinka (Nigeria) Tara June Winch (Australia)
2006–2007 Tahar Ben Jelloun (Morocco) Edem Awumey (Togo)
2004–2005 Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru) Antonio García Ángel (Colombia)
2002–2003 Toni Morrison (United States) Julia Leigh (Australia)


Date Mentor Protégé
2018–2019 Zakir Hussain (India) Marcus Gilmore (United States)
2016–2017 Philip Glass (United States) Pauchi Sasaki (Peru)
2014–2015 Kaija Saariaho (Finland) Vasco Mendonça (Portugal)
2012–2013 Gilberto Gil (Brazil) Dina El Wedidi (Egypt)
2010–2011 Brian Eno (United Kingdom) Ben Frost (Australia)
2008–2009 Youssou N’Dour (Senegal) Aurelio Martínez (Honduras)
2006–2007 Pinchas Zukerman (Israel) David Aaron Carpenter (United States)
2004–2005 Jessye Norman (United States) Susan Platts (Canada)
2002–2003 The late Sir Colin Davis (United Kingdom) Josep Caballé-Domenech (Spain)


Date Mentor Protégé
2016–2017 Robert Lepage (Canada) Matías Umpierrez (Argentina / Spain)
2014–2015 Jennifer Tipton (United States) Sebastián Solórzano Rodríguez (Mexico)
2012–2013 The late Patrice Chéreau (France) Michał Borczuch (Poland)
2010–2011 Peter Sellars (United States) Maya Zbib (Lebanon)
2008–2009 Kate Valk (United States) Nahuel Pérez Biscayart (Argentina)
2006–2007 Julie Taymor (United States) Selina Cartmell (United Kingdom)
2004–2005 Sir Peter Hall (United Kingdom) Lara Foot (South Africa)
2002–2003 Robert Wilson (United States) Federico León (Argentina)

Visual ArtsEdit

Date Mentor Protégé
2016–2017 Joan Jonas (United States) Thao-Nguyen Phan (Vietnam)
2014–2015 Olafur Eliasson (Denmark/Iceland) Sammy Baloji (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
2012–2013 William Kentridge (South Africa) Mateo López (Colombia)
2010–2011 Sir Anish Kapoor (United Kingdom) Nicholas Hlobo (South Africa)
2008–2009 Rebecca Horn (Germany) Masanori Handa (Japan)
2006–2007 John Baldessari (United States) Alejandro Cesarco (Uruguay)
2004–2005 David Hockney (United Kingdom) Matthias Weischer (Germany)
2002–2003 Álvaro Siza (Portugal) Sahel Al Hiyari (Jordan)

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit